WEEK 8 – The Final Countdown
With only six days remaining in the 2018 legislative session, the race is on in both chambers to move bills through the last committees and onto the floor for full consideration. Since legislators are moving at warp speed trying to wrap up business on schedule, this week’s Capitol Connection will feature an overview and update on the proposed school safety plans, budget conference and any bills that received final action in a Chamber this week. Stay tuned for next week’s edition for a comprehensive look at where the bills relating to children, youth and families ended up this session.
The past two weeks have contained highly emotional testimony and sentiments from parents, teachers, students and other school safety advocates. Governor Scott, accompanied by Ryan Petty whose daughter, Alaina, was tragically killed in the Parkland shooting, addressed each Chamber this week imploring them to pass legislation to make Florida schools and students safer. The Governor is openly opposed to the Marshal Plan that is set forth in both Chambers’ bills: SB 7026 and HB 7101. Both bills also contain provisions relating to age restrictions and waiting periods for firearm purchases, Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education, funding for mental health treatment in schools, among others. Although the House and Senate bills are not identical, the House has indicated that they will delay debate on their version and instead await the Senate version. Senate President Joe Negron called for an extra session to convene today, March 3rd, for the sole purpose of hearing SB 7026. It is scheduled for final vote in the Senate on Monday and, if passed, will then go before the House. You can read the analysis of SB 7026 in its entirety here. Once differences are worked out and a bill is voted favorably by both chambers, it must then receive final approval by Governor Scott before becoming codified in statute.
Budget negotiations between the House and the Senate on SB 2500 and HB 5001 began on Tuesday, February 27th. House and Senate leadership gave conference chairs until Friday, March 2nd to complete their work and bump up remaining issues to the budget chairs over the weekend. Any issues not resolved by budget chairs must be bumped to the presiding officers by March 4th. It is anticipated that the final budget will be distributed to House and Senate members on Tuesday to meet the mandatory 72 hour cooling-off period before the final vote on Friday, March 9th, the last day of the regular legislative session.
SB 1254 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and its House companion HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) seek to reinforce and strengthen accountability measures in the publicly funded School Readiness program. The bills also restore local flexibility in determining eligibility so that early learning coalitions can prioritize children at greatest risk of school failure within communities. HB 1091 passed the full House on March 1st. SB 1254 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee on March 2nd, its last committee of reference.
Early Childhood Music Education
SB 654 by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) extends the scheduled expiration of the Early Childhood Education Pilot Program. The bill passed favorably in the full Senate on March 2nd. A House companion has not been filed and unless language is amended onto an existing bill, made part of a committee bill, or addressed through the budget process, this bill will likely die.
Perinatal Mental Health
SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) create the “Florida Families First Act” and would require the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care, as well as revise components that are included in the postpartum evaluation and follow-up care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression. SB 138 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee on February 27th. HB 937 passed the full House on March 1st and now heads to the Senate.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
SB 434 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and its House companion, HB 407 by Rep. Bob Rommel (R-Naples) would require the Agency for Health Care Administration, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, to establish a pilot project licensing facilities to treat infants who suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome and to provide for data collection and research. SB 434 passed favorably in the full Senate on March 2nd. HB 407 has been referred to three committees and awaiting action in the Health Innovation Subcommittee.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
CS/SB 450 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and the House companion, HB 1327 by Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg) establish screening requirements for peer specialists working in mental health programs and facilities. The bill requires the Department of Children and Families to develop a training program for peer specialists and give preference to trainers who are certified peer specialists and requires peer specialists to meet the requirements of a background screening. CS/SB 450 passed the full Senate on March 2nd. HB 1327 has been referred to three committees.
SB 508 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and the House companion HB 751 by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) require CareerSource Florida, Inc., to submit, in a detailed annual report, certain information on individuals subject to mandatory work requirements who receive temporary cash or food assistance. The bill requires the Department of Economic Opportunity to work with program participants in developing strategies to overcome obstacles to compliance with work activity requirements and creates the TANF Reemployment Pilot Program in Pinellas County. SB 508 is awaiting action in the Commerce and Tourism Committee, its second of four committees of reference. HB 751 passed favorably in the full House on March 1st and now heads to the Senate.
SB 1160 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and the House companion, CS/HB 693 by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) authorize changes to public assistance policy and federal food assistance waivers to conform to federal law & simplify administration. The bills require DCF to impose resource limit for households receiving food assistance, subject to federal approval and requires CareerSource Florida, Inc., to contract with a vendor to develop a pilot program to increase employment for persons receiving temporary cash assistance. SB 1160 has been referred to four committees and has yet to be considered. CS/HB 693 passed favorably in the full House on March 1st and now heads to the Senate.
HB 1105 by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) and its Senate companion, SB 1650 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) provides for name of child’s guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem to be entered on court orders in dependency proceedings. The bill requires the court to advise parents during adjudicatory hearing of actions required to achieve reunification and modifies mandatory timeframes for dependency hearings and enter orders. HB 1105 is awaiting action in the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee. SB 1650 passed favorably in the full Senate on March 2nd.
SB 1552 by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) and the House companion, HB 1417 by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) require that a prolific juvenile offender be held in secure detention until a detention hearing is held if the juvenile violated the conditions of non-secure detention. SB 1552 also includes language to increase the age of a child that is required to or can be direct filed to the adult court system from 14 to 15 years old. HB 1417 was Placed on the Special Order Calendar for consideration by the full House on March 2nd. SB 1552 passed favorably in the full Senate on March 2nd.
SB 1004 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and the House companion, HB 361 by Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) authorize certain elected and state officials (or their designees) to visit all state facilities housing juveniles which are operated or overseen by the Department of Juvenile Justice and prohibit the department from unreasonably withholding permission for visits to such facilities by certain persons. SB 1004 is awaiting action by the full Senate. HB 361 passed favorably in the full House on March 1st.
SB 1392 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and its House companion HB 489 by Rep. Sharon Pritchett (D-Miramar) require, in every judicial circuit, the establishment of a prearrest diversion program and modifies processes and procedures relating to the administration of diversion and civil citation programs. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to expunge the nonjudicial arrest record of a minor if the diversion program submits certification for expunction. SB 1392 passed favorably in the full Senate on March 2nd. HB 489 has been referred to three committees.
OTHER BILLS AFFECTING CHILDREN
Children with Unique Abilities
SB 1788 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and the House companion, HB 1373 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) prohibit the Agency for Persons with Disabilities from issuing a license to a new comprehensive transitional education program and prohibit the agency from renewing the license of an existing comprehensive transitional education program after December 31, 2020. SB 1788 is awaiting action by the full Senate. HB 1373 passed the full House on March 1st and now heads to the Senate.